About the Author
John Knight is the son of a WWII Veteran and High School Teacher, who was also a Dean of Men (Principle), and a Football, Basketball, and Track Coach, who went on to become a PGA Golf Professional. So John grew up with a passion for sports and fitness. But since his father was also a huge animal lover, he grew up with a with a love for animals as well.
But like many who grew up in the sixties and seventies, John also grew up with a lot of religious condemnation—the fire and brimstone, repent or burn brand that brings out the worst in children. As a result, John carried a deep and debilitating sense of condemnation into his adult life that controlled him into his mid-fifties.
After a serious injury while playing football in the USMC, John’s efforts to get back on the field led him into the Health & Fitness Industry where he spent the better part of the next thirty years.
During that time, John was in and out of college, won titles in bodybuilding, and went on to write three books in Health/Fitness and Sports Performance. He also had numerous published articles in weight-loss, lower-back health, and injury prevention, and was a regular health and fitness source for local TV stations.
His first book in 1997 was called “Simply Fat Loss” and was the very first “expanded application” of the Glycemic Index, a proven science that is now the foundation for the Nutri System Diet Plan and many others.
Next, in 1999, he designed a fitness program for golfers that they could do at home and wrote the scripts for the two-video program and infomercial, which appeared on The Golf Channel and Fox Sports Regionals across the country.
Then immediately afterwards, John began researching, designing, and developing the Golf Performance Indexes (Indices), i.e., the standards that measure physical conditioning and athletic ability in terms of “on the course” golf performance.
This was a complex, 200-page book and was also the most highly accredited continuing education course for golf specific fitness instructors at that time. The book was accompanied by several versions of diagnostic software: one each for Golfers, Golf Instructors, Golf Specific Fitness Instructors, High School and College Golf Teams, and of course, Golf Courses. It was entitled The Playfit® Performance Enhancement System and can still be downloaded (for free) by clicking the link.
A few years prior to this endeavor, in 1995, John and his wife, Debra, had acquired two wolfdogs (wolf hybrids). When the last one died in 2005, they acquired two wolves and obtained their Class II Wildlife License. Then after a difficult family matter that required John’s full attention—and also dissolved his life’s work—John and Debra found themselves out in the country with their two wolves, Sampson and Spirit.
Since their Class II Wildlife License made them a licensed wolf facility, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FFWCC) and The USDA began contacting them about taking in wolves they seized from unlicensed owners and abusive situations. John and Debra never intended to have a wolf sanctuary. But as people who can’t bear to see any animal suffer—and had zero confidence in how others cared for captive born and bred wolves—they were unable to say no. This is how Big Oak Wolf Sanctuary began.
John and Debra have rescued over 130 wolves and wolf dogs since Big Oak Wolf Sanctuary began in 2005, and John has been in direct contact with approximately five dozen of them—the number they average at the facility at all times—all day, every day, for fifteen years now. As a man of faith, the fifty thousand plus hours he has spent nurturing them back to health and wholeness has allowed him to see the power of grace in their lives in a uniquely enlightening way.
“No matter how negative their impressions of us are when they arrive here or how badly they hurt us (due to their fears created by their abusive pasts), we never make them feel as if they’ve done anything wrong. Over time, they learn that, here at the sanctuary, they’re free to be exactly who and what they are, safe from any form of retaliation or punishment from people. The result is healing, trust, a desire for our presence, and finally, an intimate, more loving relationship with us. The practice of continually extending each individual wolf or wolfdog all the grace he or she needs has a miraculous effect on them, just as God’s grace has on us once we genuinely grasp it, that is”
Today, John and his wife Debra have made peace with having given up all of their professional hopes and dreams (the pursuit of “the good life”) in order to give these most awesome of God’s creatures the best life possible. They are committed to meeting the mental, physical, and emotional needs of each rescued wolf or wolfdog at the sanctuary, one day at a time, and illuminating the power of God’s grace through Jesus Christ in doing so.
Big Oak Wolf Sanctuary’s Mission Statement:
The mission of Big Oak Wolf Sanctuary is to provide permanent sanctuary to neglected and abused captive-born wolves and wolfdogs, to glorify God by the manner in which we care for them, and to exemplify the life-transforming power of His grace in the lives of people by sharing the miraculous transformations the abused wolves undergo as a result of the grace we extend to them.
Get The Book
Big Oak Wolf Sanctuary is a 501c3 non-profit corporation. All donations are tax-deductible.